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Josephine Medina gives Philippines 20th gold to cap campaign

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Table Tennis’ Josephine Medina snared the Philippines’ 20th gold to complete a much-improved fifth place finish in the 9th ASEAN Para Games, that officially ended yesterday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Medina, a 47-year-old 2016 Rio Paralympics bronze medalist, was all determination as she turned back a pesky Suwarti of Indonesia, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, to claim the gold in the event she has lorded over since the second edition this same country hosted 14 years ago.

After the win, the Philippines has collected a total of 20 golds, 20 silvers, and 29 bronzes, which was good for fifth overall behind runaway champion Indonesia, who had a 126-75-50 (gold-silver-bronze) harvest; host Malaysia’s 90-85-84; Thailand’s 68-73-94; and Vietnam’s 40-61-60.

It was a significant improvement to the 16-17-26 haul and seventh place effort in the 2015 Singapore edition.ASEAN-Paralympic-Games---Athletics---Cielo-Honasan

Athletics, drawing strength from three golds each by teenage sprint phenom Cielo Honasan and wheelchair-bound thrower Cendy Asusano, scooped up nine golds, five silvers and six bronzes, four more than their output in Singapore.9TH-ASEAN-Para-Games---Chess---Sander-Severino

Chess, spearheaded by triple-gold medal winner FIDE Master Sander Severino, fell short of its seven-gold target but still wound up as the country’s second-best performing sport with a 4-3-6 haul. Swimming, behind Ernie Gawilan’s twin triumphs, had three golds, three silvers, and five bronzes.

Cyclist Arthus Bucay, tenpin bowler Christopher Yue, and Paralympian powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta gave the Philippines a gold each from their respective events.

And Medina had no plans going home empty-handed.

Showing nerves of steel, Medina was a picture of calm as she bested a nervous Suwarti to carve out the four-set win.

Up two sets to one and at match point at 10-9, Medina uncorked a soft forehand that kissed the top of the net and landed on the board for the decisive point, after the lady umpire called it a point for the Philippine bet.

It was a call that Suwarti and her coach didn’t like, saying the ball had bounced on the table just once, not twice. But after some consultations with the scorer and a higher tournament official, the decision stuck.

Gold number 20, sealed and delivered.

“They (Suwarti and her coach) told me the call was wrong. But I told them it was not my fault and call, it was the umpire who made the decision and we should respect it,” said Medina in Filipino.

Medina will thus go home with two medals, including the team bronze alongside Minnie de Ramos in the higher S9-S10 class a couple of days back.

Earlier, Darwin Salvacion fell to Thai Wittaya Wichaiwattana, 5-11, 8-11, 5-11, and went home with a bronze.

Although the country was not able to meet its 27 gold medal target, chef de mission Ral Rosario said it was still a proud accomplishment.

“We went home with 20 golds, four more than what we took home in Singapore. And that’s all that matters,” said Rosario.

The Filipinos are scheduled to fly back home today with their focus now on the country’s hosting of the 10th ASEAN Para Games two years from now.

“We’re hosting the 10th ASEAN Para Games two years from now and we have to start preparation as soon as we get back,” said Michael Barredo, the newly elected president of the Philippine Paralympic Committee.

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Ateneo pulls out of friendly against UST

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The Philippine Superliga regretfully announced Friday evening that the supposed tune-up match between the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses on Saturday has been cancelled.

“We regret to announce that the scheduled friendly game between Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas volleyball teams that was to serve as an appetizer to Saturday’s championship game between Petron and F2 Logistics will not push through,” PSL chairman Philip Juico released in a statement.

Though no specific reason was said regarding why the Lady Eagles decided to pull out of the tune-up that was announced Friday morning, the league stressed that the team agreed to play.

“A late announcement by the Ateneo de Manila University officials caused the cancellation of the match they have earlier agreed to play,” the statement furthered.

Even with this circumstance, the league is holding no grudges as it is still open to have a partnership with the Lady Eagles in the future.

“The Philippine Superliga still welcomes the Ateneo Volleyball Team to play in the league as we are open to all interested squads who want to be partners of the PSL.”

Still, Game Three of the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix will still have a start time of 4:00pm.

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PBA tweaks format for 2017-18 Philippine Cup playoffs

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From 10 teams in the past, only eight teams will advance into the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs as the PBA made a few changes in its’ format for the 43rd season’s Philippine Cup, making every single game important for all teams.

The way the playoffs will be played out though remains the same. The top two teams will have a twice-to-beat edge over teams ranked seventh and eight, while the ones in the middle (3 vs 6, 4 vs 5) will figure in best-of-three contests.

Both the semifinals and finals will still be best-of-seven affairs.

Meanwhile, the league has also released the full schedule of the Philippine Cup Friday, eight days after publicizing a partial sked that only showed games from December 17 to 29.

SMART-Araneta Coliseum, SM Mall of Asia Arena, and Ynares Center in Antipolo will serve the main venues of PBA games. The FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay will also hold a few matches.

This season’s Christmas Games, which features GlobalPort Batang Pier-NLEX Road Warriors and Barangay Ginebra-Magnolia Hotshots, will be staged at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

And just like in the past seasons, the league will also hold playdates in out-of-town venues such as Ilo-ilo City, Legazpi in Albay, Calasiao in Pangasinan, Dumaguete City, and Cagayan de Oro City. All of these are set on Saturdays.

The PBA will raise the curtains of its’ 43rd year this Sunday, December 17, at the Big Dome, with defending champions San Miguel Beermen starting their four-peat bid against a revamped Phoenix Fuel Masters at 6:45 PM.

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Lady Eagles versus Golden Tigresses to open PSL’s season finale

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Serving as the opening act for Game Three of the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix Finals pitting the Petron Blaze Spikers and the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, UAAP rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles will face the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses to open the day’s festivities. The game is set at 1:00pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

This will be the final encounter of the two teams before the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball tournament begins on February 3.

The Growling Tigresses are expected to field a complete teams sans fourth-year spiker Cherry Rondina. Rondina will play for Petron later in the evening.

On the other hand, the Lady Eagles will be stepping on the PSL taraflex for the first-time ever. Ateneo won two championships in the collegiate division of PSL rival V-League. Bannering the new-look Ateneo will be Bea De Leon, Jho Maraguinot, and Kat Tolentino.

This will then be followed by the rubber match between Petron and F2 Logistics. The awarding ceremony for the tournament is set at 6:00pm.

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SBP, Robbie Puno still looking for ‘right player’ to naturalize for 2023 World Cup

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Though a lot of foreign cagers have presented themselves as willing to play for SMART Gilas Pilipinas and become naturalized Filipino, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to pick on who will be the heir apparent to Andray Blatche come the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“At this point in time, we do not have any particular player yet. My understanding is we’re still looking for the best possible candidate,” shared SBP vice chairman Robbie Puno during the celebration of the 2023 World Cup hosting held at Crowne Plaza in Pasig City.

Blatche, who last played for Gilas during the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will be 37 years old when the 2023 edition rolls around. Names that have been thrown out during the calendar year were former Blackwater Elite import Greg Smith, who will be 33 years old in 2023, and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas reinforcement Isaiah Austin, who will turn 30 by that time.

Still, Puno and his group are taking their time, carefully filtering the candidates as to not hamper the process of the legislative body of the Philippines.

“If our target is 2023, there will be probably enough time for us to make sure we have the right player in terms of his basketball skills, but also his age as well as his attitude,” said Puno, a former congressman representing the first district of Antipolo City.

Moreover, the 55-year-old politician has already planted the seeds for this long process by already talking to the members of the Lower House who will author the bill.

“Right now, we’re ready to spearhead that process. We’ve spoken with a couple of congressmen who will author the bill,” Puno disclosed.

“What we’re waiting for is the imprimatur as to who we will really make the effort to naturalize, because when you start that process, it becomes really difficult.”

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